Prosecutors review Seward officer-involved shooting
Alaska State Troopers have sent their investigation of the Seward police officer who fatally shot a man during an early-morning traffic stop to the state Department of Law.
Andrew Peterson, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, said troopers finished their investigation of Micah McComas' Oct. 1 death in the days leading up to Christmas.
"Everything was completely submitted to OSPA in late December before the holiday," Peterson said.
Seward Officer Matthew "Eddie" Armstrong, a 13-year veteran of the force, was named by troopers as the man who killed McComas, a 41-year-old Chugiak resident. Armstrong had stopped McComas in the parking lot of the Safeway grocery store in Seward just after 1:45 a.m.
Troopers say Armstrong pulled McComas over around 1:05 a.m. for a speeding violation which turned into a drug investigation. McComas was handcuffed and put in the back of the patrol car. While Armstrong was continuing his investigation, McComas managed to get in the driver's seat and then attempted to drive away.
According to the online dispatch, Armstrong tried to stop McComas but ended up firing his gun at him. An autopsy confirmed McComas died from gunshot wounds.
Armstrong suffered non-life-threatening injuries during the encounter, troopers said.
McComas' family has publicly questioned that account, saying McComas had suffered seven gunshot wounds -- including a "contact wound" indicating Armstrong's gun had been pressed directly against his body. After speaking with state officials, however, the family is awaiting the prosecutorial review of the shooting before considering legal action.
Individual officer-involved shootings can take varying lengths of time to evaluate, Peterson said, before his office returns any decision regarding criminal charges.
"Every one's different," Peterson said. "Looking back through the history of the cases we've handled, it seems to me the cases are taking about six months from beginning to end."
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